Get active, get inspired, get adventurous at Adventure Summit

Published: Wednesday, February 07, 2018 @ 11:46 AM

Adventure Summit

Age is just a number, and the three featured presenters at the 2018 Adventure Summit are proof.

From the youngest person to scale the Seven Summits, to the oldest person to complete a thru-hike of the Appalachian Trail to a woman who decided that a 1,200-mile solo kayak trip was a priority, their stories are both inspirational and motivational.

With presentations, demonstrations and competitions, the Adventure Summit will supply information and inspiration to outdoor adventure seekers of all ages and ability levels. The biennial event – sponsored by Five Rivers MetroParks and Wright State University – is free and open to public Feb. 9-10 at the Wright State University Student Union.

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Jordan Romero, a speaker at the Adventure Summit sponsored by Five Rivers MetroParks and Wright State University. CONTRIBUTED(Contributing Writer)


It started with a walk down his elementary school hallway and led to a record-breaking adventure of a lifetime.

“I saw a mural of the Seven Summits in my school and I thought it was really cool,” Romero said. “I did my research, planned, wrote out a list and, one day when my dad picked me up from school, I told him what I wanted to do.”

The then 9-year-old wanted to reach the summits of the tallest mountains on each of the seven continents — Everest, Kilimanjaro and Denali, just to name a few. Dad — an ultra runner and adventure seeker in his own right — was onboard with the idea and soon became his young son’s climbing companion.

By the time he was 13, Romero had become the youngest person to climb to the summit of Mount Everest. And, at 15 — before he even had a driver’s license – he was the youngest person to have reached all Seven Summits.

“It seemed overwhelming — I mean climbing Kilimanjaro as a 10-year-old,” Romero. “But I had such great support and everyone was so encouraging.”

The now 21-year author of “No Summit out of Sight: The True Story of the Youngest Person to Climb the Seven Summits” will share his experience on Feb. 9 at 8 p.m.

Research and risk assessment are among the things that Romero — now a student at Westminster College in Utah — advises other adventure seekers to prioritize.

“You definitely want to know what you’re getting yourself into,” he said. “Start small, it takes the right mindset to accomplish something like this. You will be overwhelmed — I know I was — but remind yourself that if it was easy, everyone would be doing it.”

Whether it’s climbing or cycling or paddling, Romero encourages young people to find their passion.

“I tell kids to ‘find their Everest’ and know what their mountain is to climb.”

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Susan Marie Conrad, a speaker at the Adventure Summit sponsored by Five Rivers MetroParks and Wright State University. CONTRIBUTED(Contributing Writer)


The avid paddler now jokingly admits that it sounds a bit like a country music ballad but, at the time, Susan Marie Conrad was finding few reasons to smile.

“My dad had died, my cat died and a long-term relationship had just ended,” she said. “My life had spun off kilter and I was looking for a way to get it back on track.”

Conrad was also “pushing the big 50,” another reason to pursue a bucket-list type adventure. So she embarked on a 1,200-mile journey through the Inside Passage in an 18-foot sea kayak in the spring of 2010.

From Anacortes, Washington to Juneau, Alaska, Conrad ventured for 66 days – a full 56 days longer than her previous longest trip. It was a journey that was both physically and emotionally taxing.

“I did get into some pretty nasty weather – miserable gale force winds that were a bit more than I bargained for – and there were some moments I wanted to pack it in and go home,” Conrad said. “But, in the end, I was surprised by my own strength and courage.”

That wasn’t the only surprise.

“I knew it was going to be beautiful, but I truly didn’t expect the grandeur and magic that I encountered,” she said.

“And, setting out on the trip, I knew it was going to change me somehow but I had no idea how much. It’s just so profound how the trip helped me become a stronger, more courageous person and how incredible the healing power of nature is.”

The author of “Inside: One Woman’s Journey Through the Inside Passage” encourages others to find opportunities for growth. And for those you decide to take on a monumental challenge – like a 1,200-mile solo kayak trip – she has some simple advice.

“Set a date, give yourself a deadline and, every day, do something toward that goal,” she said. “And start blabbing to people about it and then there’s no turning back. That’s what I did and my pride wouldn’t let me back out.”

Conrad will be the featured presenter on Saturday, Feb. 10 at noon.

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Dale Sanders, a speaker at the Adventure Summit sponsored by Five Rivers MetroParks and Wright State University. CONTRIBUTED(Contributing Writer)


There were doubters, but Dale Sanders paid no attention to them.

“There were some so-called experts, people who told me, at my age that I didn’t have a chance,” Sanders said. “I proved them wrong.”

The 82-year-old – nicknamed “Grey Beard” – became the oldest person to complete a thru-hike of the entire Appalachian Trail on Oct. 26, 2017. He set out on Jan. 1 and 2,190 miles later, completed his record-breaking feat. Along the way, he logged 4,625,250 steps.

Too old? Don’t even try that excuse on Sanders.

“That’s an extremely lame excuse,” he said. “If anything, the more you do, the more good it does for the body and the better you feel.”

That’s not to say, the AT hike was a picnic. Sanders endured weight loss and dealt with health issues along the way.

“I know exactly what surprised me the most, that it was as hard as it was,” Sanders said. “But I was determined to finish.”

The longtime hiker was also pleasantly surprised by the camaraderie he encountered along the way.

“The way I was accepted by the other hikers, the way they took me in as one of their own and treated me with respect and kindness was just incredible.”

Sanders – who will talk about his adventures on Saturday, Feb. 10 at 5 p.m. – is not one to rest on his laurels and is already pondering ideas for his next outdoor adventure. Those who want to follow him can do so at

A bouldering competition at a past Adventure Summit. CONTRIBUTED(Contributing Writer)


What: The area’s premier outdoor adventure exposition

When: Friday, Feb. 9, 5-9 p.m.; Saturday, Feb. 10, 9 a.m.-6 p.m.

Where: Wright State University Student Union

Events: Featured presenters, educational sessions, competitions, fitness classes, club information, used gear sale beer tasting and more

More: For a complete list of events and daily schedule, visit

Cost: Free


Attendees have the opportunity to listen to the three featured presenters, in addition to over 40 other adventure presentations from local and regional speakers. Local presentations will be hosted throughout the Summit and cover the gamut of outdoor adventures, from hiking in Scotland to bicycling across the United States. The presentations will take place in the Wright State Student Union.

• Jordan Romero: Friday, Feb. 9, at 8 p.m.

• Susan Marie Conrad: Saturday, Feb. 10, at noon

• Dale “Grey Beard” Sanders brought to you by Tomfoolery Outdoors: Feb. 10 at 5 p.m.

The public is invited to the Summit Soiree, presented by Great Lakes Brewing Co., on Friday from 6:30 to 8 p.m., when guests will be able to enjoy drinks and heavy hors d’oeuvres with fellow event-goers and featured speakers. Admission is $10/person and available online.

After Romero’s presentation, attendees are welcome to enjoy beverages and appetizers at the Great Lakes Brewing Co. Party with the Pros, held at the Wandering Griffin in Beavercreek.

To stay up-to-date on event activities, speakers and exhibitors visit

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So you wanna be a figure skater? Start your Olympic dreams here

Published: Monday, February 19, 2018 @ 6:00 AM

Maia Shibutani and Alex Shibutani of the United States perform their ice dance free dance routine as part of the team figure skating competition of the 2018 Winter Olympics at the Gangneung Ice Arena in Gangneung, South Korea, on Monday, Feb. 12, 2018. The U.S. took the bronze medal in the team figure skating event Monday. (Chang W. Lee/The New York Times)
Maia Shibutani and Alex Shibutani of the United States perform their ice dance free dance routine as part of the team figure skating competition of the 2018 Winter Olympics at the Gangneung Ice Arena in Gangneung, South Korea, on Monday, Feb. 12, 2018. The U.S. took the bronze medal in the team figure skating event Monday. (Chang W. Lee/The New York Times)(CHANG W. LEE)

Hagerstown, Tokyo, Beavercreek – as long as there was an ice rink nearby, it was home sweet home for Cindi Sonntag.

“Physically, it’s helped me build muscle – core muscle and leg muscle – but it’s more than that,” Sonntag said. “When I skate, I feel joy.”

With the Olympics underway, the grace and beauty of the sport is on display almost nightly. But while Olympic gold is a rare commodity, figure skating can be enjoyed by all ages – even without the sequins and commentators.

“In Olympic years we get what we call an Olympic bounce,” said Angie Riviello, arena and aquatics manager at the Kettering Recreation Complex. “People see the incredible athletes and it’s so beautiful to watch, you just get inspired.”

That inspiration has no age limits.

“You’re never too old to start,” Riviello said. “We have a lot of adults who come out and want to take lessons so they can skate with their kids or grandkids at open skates.”

Sonntag can vouch for the fact that you’re never too old as she was in her 40s, living in Maryland, when she got started skating. Now, at 56, the mother of four, who also called Tokyo home, is skating competitively and training for the adult nationals.

>> How you can get involved in this icy Olympic sport right here

Crystal Ramsey of Springfield skates at Kettering Ice Arena. CONTRIBUTED(Contributing Writer)


“When I started skating, I realized that I could not worry about things and skate at the same time, I had to turn off that part of my brain,” Sonntag said. “That means when I skate I have these moments when everything is right and that’s a wonderful feeling.”

And while Sonntag is in her mid-50s, she is still, often times, a youngster on the ice. Riviello regularly sees skaters well into their 70s taking lessons.

“The first thing we focus on is safety because a lot of adults are nervous that if they fall, they will break something,” Riviello said. “So, one of the first things we do is teach them how to fall and how to get back out and that helps put their mind at ease.”

Sonntag has seen skaters in their 80s lace up their skates.

“You can learn new things at any age,” she said. “And this is something I can do when I’m ‘old,’” she added with a smile.

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Cindi Sonntag of Beavercreek and partner Leo Kaplun, originally from Russia, medaled in pairs and ice dancing at the 2016 nationals in Michigan. CONTRIBUTED(Contributing Writer)


Beyond the mental health aspects of the sport, skating has several physical benefits.

“Skating is a great workout for the core, and it’s a great workout for legs,” Riviello said. “It’s also wonderful for improving balance and creating body awareness.”

The cardio and stamina benefits should not be overlooked and some adult skaters enjoy just tallying laps – 10 laps at the Kettering Ice Arena equal a mile. And skaters can burn 200 calories an hour on the ice.

“It really is great exercise and you can take it as far as you want to take it,” Riviello said.

From the beginner class to advanced jumps and spins, the Learn to Skate USA curriculum offers a safe and steady progression. There are also opportunities to perform with local skating groups and compete – like Sonntag.

“I’m not going to be a double jumper but that’s ok,” she said. “Getting out and moving just makes me feel better.”

>> What you need to know about skating at Riverscape

Cindi Sonntag of Beavercreek and partner Leo Kaplun, originally from Russia, medaled in pairs and ice dancing at the 2016 nationals in Michigan. CONTRIBUTED(Contributing Writer)


Kettering Ice Arena

WHERE: 2900 Glengarry Drive, Kettering

WHAT: Youth and adult lessons, open skating, hockey


South Metro Sports

WHERE: 10561 Success Lane, Centerville

WHAT: Youth and adult lessons, open skating, hockey, South Dayton Figure Skating Club,

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How you can get involved in this icy Olympic sport right here

Published: Thursday, February 08, 2018 @ 12:00 AM

Curling at RiverScape Ice Rink. CONTRIBUTED
Contributing Writer
Curling at RiverScape Ice Rink. CONTRIBUTED(Contributing Writer)

It started with an ad for a four-week instructional league, but it didn’t take nearly that long for Jason Hillard to get hooked on curling.

“I’m a Southern Ohio boy, maybe I had seen curling in the Olympics once or twice, but I remember thinking ‘wow, this happens in Dayton,’” Hillard said. “I did not anticipate how much I would love the sport or the curling community.”

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While there isn’t a medal podium at the end of the ice, there are plenty of opportunities to try your hand at the Olympic sport of curling in the Miami Valley. Curl Troy – founded in 2010, shortly after the Vancouver Olympics, by a group of friends who got hooked on the game – runs leagues as well as Learn to Curl clinics in multiple venues including the RiverScape Ice Rink in Dayton and the National Trail Parks and Recreation District Chiller in Springfield.

And while fitness is definitely part of the equation, it’s the fun factor that brings local curlers back to the ice.

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Curling at the National Trail Parks and Recreation District (NTRPD) Chiller in Springfield. CONTRIBUTED(Contributing Writer)


Curling – which made its Olympic debut in 1924 – is a team sport, played by two teams of four players on a rectangular sheet of ice measuring 42.07 meters long and 4.28 meters wide with a target, referred to as the house, at either end.

A 44-pound granite stone is propelled down the ice and navigated into place by team members using a sweeping device, referred to as a brush or broom, to control its speed and direction.

Curling has been described as the “Roarin’ Game” with the roar coming from the sound the stone makes as it travels over the ice. According to the World Curling Federation, while its exact origins are unclear, curling is believed to be one of the world’s oldest team sports with records dating back to the 1500s.

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Beyond the history, curling is a game of strategy.

“It has been referred to as ‘chess on ice,’” said Hillard, now a Curl Troy board member. “There is quite a bit of strategy involved.”

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While curling is played on ice, players can still work up a sweat.

“Sweeping is really where you put in the work,” Hillard said.

Curling can help improve core strength and balance as well as burn calories.

Sean Snavely, of New Carlisle, got hooked after participating in curling event in December. It’s now a family affair as he competes in a league at RiverScape with his dad and two brothers-in-law.

“It’s a great stress reliever and fun competition,” Snavely said. “And anybody can do it.”

Hillard has seen players as young as 9 and as old as 90 try their hand at curling.

“I am a competitive person, but for me, personally, it’s the social part that brings me back,” Hillard said. “I have six kids at home, so curling is my outlet.”

The camaraderie is also a highlight for Curl Troy vice president Mike Harwat.

“One of the best things about the sport are the people you meet,” Harwat said. “I have met so many cool people and hope to find ways to introduce even more people to the sport – especially kids.”

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Do’s and don’ts for best enjoying the outdoor skating experience

Published: Friday, November 28, 2014 @ 12:00 AM
Updated: Friday, November 28, 2014 @ 12:00 AM

Yes, it’s cold out — but you can still enjoy the outdoors.

A popular activity this season is outdoor skating. The region’s largest outdoor ice skating rink — MetroParks Ice Rink, sheltered under the pavilion at RiverScape MetroPark, 237 E. Monument Ave. — is now open daily through Feb. 28. Admission is $5 daily, and skate rental is $2.

“With its appeal to both young and old, the experience of skating at the MetroParks Ice Rink is fast becoming a holiday tradition for Miami Valley families looking for something fun to do together,” said James Carter, RiverScape MetroPark rental concession supervisor. “With its location along the riverfront, the MetroParks Ice Rink also is a great way to experience the outdoors during cooler weather.”

But for the uninitiated, it can be intimidating. Here are some dos and don’ts to help prepare for an outdoor skating experience:

Don’t be afraid of falling. Use what MetroParks Ice Rink skating instructor Cheri Snyder of Kettering calls “tricks” to avoid falls.

“Keep your shoulders down, your knees loose and slightly bent, and use your hands to ‘push down’ toward the ice to maintain your balance,” Snyder said. “If you feel like you’re going to fall, move your body as if you’re about to sit down. Bend your knees to stop the motion.

“I want to take the fear out of skating, because it’s a fun and easy sport and a great way to pass the time,” Snyder added. “It’s really pretty easy when you come down to it.”

Do check out the skating lessons for adults and children held at the rink throughout the season to learn more tricks, along with other basic skills that will have participants moving comfortably on the ice. Visit for a list of lessons and other events that will be held at the MetroParks Ice Rink.

“I’ve had some people older than me take lessons for the first time,” said Snyder, who took up skating at age 44. “I give students some advice and tricks so they can skate without getting hurt or hurting someone else. It’s great to have people in lessons and then see them out at the rink during open skate.

“Although I will help anybody I see at the rink,” she added. “Sometimes, I’ll see an adult hanging on to a kid, and it looks like the adult is going to dislocate the kid’s shoulder, so I’ll offer some advice. The adults are always happy they don’t have to hang onto their kids anymore.”

Do dress in layers. While it may be cold out, skaters warm up quickly while on the ice. Wear a wicking layer closest to the skin and an outer weather-resistant layer. Don’t forget gloves and a hat!

Do plan to warm up with some hot chocolate and other treats at Silver Fern Café, located next to the ice and open during the rink’s hours.

Do put your party on ice. Private ice rink rentals are available from 6 to 8 p.m. on Sunday and Thursday evenings and are a great activity for families, neighborhoods, clubs and other groups. The $300 rink rental includes 50 pairs of ice skates and 50 cups of hot chocolate.

Do save some money by getting a season pass: $75 family passes cover season-long admission and skate rentals for up to five people, and $40 individual passes cover the same costs for one person. Gift certificates also are available.

Don’t stay home if you absolutely can’t be convinced to get on the ice. Visit the rink to watch other skaters or players during the broomball and curling leagues. Games for the Dayton Broomball Association’s co-ed recreational and competitive leagues are held at the MetroParks Ice Rink on Mondays and Wednesdays, Jan. 5-Feb. 23, from 6 to 8 p.m. Watch locals try their hands at Olympic sport curling during Curl Troy’s league games held on Tuesdays, Jan. 6-Feb. 3, from 6 to 10 p.m.

This article was provided by Five Rivers MetroParks. For more information about outdoor skating at RiverScape, visit or call 937-274-0126 for more information.

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Sure, it’s cold — but now is still a great time to jump on a Link bike

Published: Monday, January 29, 2018 @ 6:00 AM

The Link Winter Warrior competition in its third year offers plenty of incentives to pedal through the winter. CONTRIBUTED
The Link Winter Warrior competition in its third year offers plenty of incentives to pedal through the winter. CONTRIBUTED

Frigid temperatures and an occasional flurry may send some cyclists inside until the spring thaw — but not the Winter Warriors.

The Link Winter Warrior competition — in its third year — offers plenty of incentives to pedal through the winter.

“We’re trying to encourage people to ride all year long,” said Chris Buck, business development manager for Bike Miami Valley.

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Link Bike Share is Dayton’s public bike sharing system designed for short trips. Riders can pick up a bike at any station and return it to the same or any other station when they’re done. Membership can be purchased online or at any kiosk. The cost for unlimited 30-minute rides, over a 24-hour period, rings up at just $5. It’s a fun and healthy way to get from point-to-point quickly and economically.

Since Link began in 2015, more than 85,000 trips have been logged – more than 30,000 last year alone – but weather does cause a significant dip in the trip numbers. Prizes, raffles and bragging rights, however, have served as motivation for riders to pedal their way into the Winter Warrior competition that got underway in December and runs through Feb. 23.

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While all Winter Warriors log their trips on the standard green Link bikes, the grand prize for the competition – awarded to the person who takes the most trips – is a new cruiser bike from New Belgium Brewing Company. Haven’t signed up yet? Not a problem as all Link members’ trips taken during the three-month period will be applied to their count retroactively once they join the challenge online at

Weekly prizes from local businesses are also awarded and participants are eligible for a variety of raffle prizes throughout the challenge. Five Link trips net riders one raffle entry.


Prizes include an annual Link membership, a year’s worth of tomfoolery with Tomfoolery Outdoors and gift cards from local businesses like the Trolley Stop, Ghostlight Coffee and the Second Street Market.

“We like to partner with local businesses to highlight all the places riders can explore,” Buck said. “And show how very bikeable Dayton is.”

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Winter cycling has a few additional challenges as both road conditions and the temperature need to be taken into consideration.

‘The biggest thing is to watch for ice and be aware of your surroundings,” Buck said. “Take your time, if you’re aware and cautious, you’ll probably be fine.”

Preparation is key and layering is the best way to combat the cold and avoid getting overheated. A windproof outer layer, gloves and sunglasses are advisable. Buck – who has logged several winter rides himself – also suggests keeping your face covered for comfort.

“We want people to know, it might be cold, but you’ll be OK out there,” he said.

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Costs include unlimited 30-minute trips.

  • 24-hour: $5
  • Monthly: $10
  • Annual: $65


What: Ride a Link Bike or a personal bike for Winter Bike to Work Day. The Link Shop will be open with coffee, breakfast pastries and fruit for riders to enjoy. There will be space to park riders’ personal bikes.

When: Feb. 7, 7-9 a.m.

Where: Link Shop, 4 S. Main St., Dayton

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